NUTRITINAL THERAPY FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Numerous studies have been done on nutritional therapy for high blood pressure, i.e., hypertension. Large-scale studies in industrial nations have found low levels of magnesium, compared with those of calcium, to be related to hypertension and ischmic heart disease.1 "High intakes of vitamin D and phosphate, which can readily occur under American dietary patterns, increase the magnesium needs and, in experimental animals, aggravate the arterial damage produced by magnesium deficiency."1 Many other nutrients and some hormones are also involved in heart disease.
In "Non-Drug Treatment of Hypertension," Norman M. Kaplan, MD, of Dallas, Texas,2 reviewed the literature and stated, "As more people with mild hypertension are treated, non-drug therapies should be used more frequently and effectively." He suggested, first of all, weight reduction for the overweight. Moderate sodium reduction and potassium supplementation can be accomplished "particularly by the substitution of natural foods for processed products." He cited studies showing that the taste preference for salt decreases after three months of moderately reduced intake, making continued compliance easy. Calcium and magnesium levels should be carefully checked, and corrected if they are low. Diuretics, he warned, can induce low magnesium levels. "More fiber and less saturated fat are beneficial for other reasons and may also help lower blood pressure. Alcohol should be limited. . ." Exercise has many benefits, and "purposeful muscular relaxation has long been noted to lower blood pressure in many hypertensives." In this regard, he cited a recent well-designed study using biofeedback and relaxation to obtain "highly significant" reductions in blood pressure, both at eight weeks and six months later, inpatients with mild hypertension.
Courtesy of Jeffrey Bland, PhD, author of Nutraerobics
Rose Stamler, MA, and Jeremiah Stamler, MD, Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School, recently completed, together with colleagues, a major study, "Nutritional Therapy for High Blood Pressure, Final Report of a Four-Year Randomized Controlled Trial – The Hypertension Control Program."3 Participants in the study had their blood pressure well controlled on moderate amounts of drugs, were 10 percent to 49 percent overweight and/or had high sodium intake, had no other major diseases, had "no known history of problem drinking," and agreed to follow the study regimen. They were randomly divided into three groups. The first two had drug therapy discontinued after two months and the third was continued on drugs with no dietary changes. The first group was only counseled to reduce overweight, salt intake, and alcohol, and the results were impressive. "At four years, 39 percent of group 1 remained normotensive without drug therapy, compared with 5 percent in group 2. Study findings demonstrated that nutritional therapy may substitute for drugs in a sizable proportion of hypertensives or, if drugs are still needed, can lesson some unwanted biochemical effects of drug treatment."
1 "Magnesium and Calcium in Hypertension and Ischemic Heart Disease." Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Commentary and Abstracts, 4:253-60(1985).
2 Annals of Internal Medicine, 1985, Vol. 102, pp. 359-73.
3 Journal of the American Medical Association, March 2, 1987, Vol 257, No. 11, pp. 1484-91.
Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XII, No. 3, Summer 1987, pages 1-2.